NZ Sevens ticket sales plummet
NEWS: A mere 1 300 tickets have been sold for the upcoming Wellington Sevens on January 28 and 29.
The two-day event is being played at Westpac Stadium but by mid-December less than four percent of the tickets have been sold, which went on sale in September 2016.
While new sevens events such as Sydney and Vancouver draw big gates, the popularity of the Wellington Sevens has been on a downward spiral.
In the past, the event used to be sold out in a matter of minutes but according to New Zealand newspaper Stuff tickets sales are sluggish with only 1 300 tickets being sold for the tournament despite the stadium's capacity of 34 500.
The 2016 event drew crowds of 15 000 people on both weekend days and the event was understood to have lost NZ$300 000 (US$ 209 000).
A combination of factors, including waning interest and a crackdown on intoxication has turned punters off the event in recent times.
In an interview with Stuff Wellington Sevens general manager Steve Dunbar stated he had no idea about the number of ticket sales.
Despite previously providing pre-event ticket sale numbers, Dunbar said he would not be specific.
"Each year we listen to fans and to change the market approach. We are gearing up for that now.
"We are doing all we possibly can. I hope people come out and have a good time," he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle urged locals to come out and support the event.
"The expectation is that the sevens will never be the event that it once was. I appeal to Wellingtonians to get behind the event. They can remember the old days but there is nothing stopping people from having fun again."
The council was no longer on the sevens' governance board but it still provided "minimal" funding, he said.
Exactly how much has not been revealed, however, it is understood to be in the vicinity of NZ$150 000 (US$105 000).
A recent meeting of the city council's council-controlled organisations committee suggested Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency take the lead on the sevens.
"There needs to be a rethink. Maybe it could be repositioned to become a community festival, perhaps at the Basin Reserve," Eagle said.
Hospitality New Zealand Wellington regional manager Dylan Firth said the industry was not expecting a big weekend and were basing expectations on last year, he said.
"The event is not as huge as it once was, so people are not putting any investment into it,"
Last year organisers tried to boost crowd numbers by moving the event to earlier in the year, and offering cut-price tickets and incentives for families to bring children. It also had the added draw card of All Blacks or Super Rugby players, who were preparing for the Olympics but they are unlikely to be playing this year.